RFID 101 - Transponder And Reader Engineered Systems Inc.

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Transcript RFID 101 - Transponder And Reader Engineered Systems Inc.

Prepared for the American Fencing Association by:
Douglas Cram, President – Transponder and Reader Engineered
Systems, Inc. [email protected] - (770) 529-1040
What is RFID?
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification
method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices
called RFID readers, antenna and tags/transponders in the frequency
range of 3 kHz to 300,000 MHz
RFID readers (in the case of passive tags) or receivers (in the case of active
tags) come in many shapes and sizes and typically process the information
gathered by the antenna and output that information in specific data
formats to include Wiegand, RS232, TCP/IP and/or USB. The
Readers/Receivers may also be capable of other specialized functions such
as data output when grounded by an activation loop, relay output
functionality, read range adjustments (attenuation) and more.
RFID antennas also come in many shapes and sizes and are sometimes
integrated with the readers in a single containment. There are many cases
where the antenna is separate from the reader and many passive readers
utilize multiple antennas connected to a single reader. The antenna is
designed to pass the RFID signal being transmitted or reflected from the
tag and pass it along to the reader for processing.
An RFID tag/transponder is an object that can be applied to or
incorporated into a product, asset, or person for the purpose of
identification and tracking using radio waves. Most RFID tags contain
two primary components. One is an integrated circuit (IC) for storing and
processing information, modulating and demodulating a radio-frequency
(RF) signal, and other specialized functions. The second is an antenna for
receiving and transmitting the signal to the reader/receiver. There are
generally two types of RFID tags: active RFID tags, which draw their
transmitting power from self contained battery, and passive RFID tags,
which have no battery and draw their transmitting power from the reader.
Commonly Utilized Frequencies
ULF - Ultra-Low Frequency = 3 to 30 kHz – underwater
LF - Low Frequency = 30 to 300 kHz – AM radio,
Proximity readers, Ultrasound (RTLS)
MF – Medium Frequency = 300 to 3,000 kHz Navigation
beacons, AM radio
HF - High Frequency = 3 to 30 MHz – CB radios, smart card
VHF – Very High Frequency = 30 to 300 MHz Two way
radio communications
UHF - Ultra-High Freq = 300 to 3,000 MHz (3 GHz) –
Satellite radio, ISM Band (Industrial, Scientific, Medical)
Vehicle ID & Asset/Personnel Tracking, RTLS
SHF - 3 to 30 GHz – Microwave
EHF – 30 to 300 GHz – Radio Astronomy
Readers – Antennas
900 MHz passive reader
w/integrated antenna
433 MHz active reader
w/internal etched antenna
900 MHz passive reader
w/multiple antenna
433 MHz external circular
polarized antenna
Readers – Antennas
13.56 MHz tag inlays
with reader/programmer
125 kHz and 13.56 MHz
multi frequency reader
125 kHz reader
w/integrated antenna
125 kHz Prox card
interior view
(older style)
Read Ranges
Read ranges (distance between the reader/receiver antenna and
tags at which tag data can be effectively interrogated) can range
from a few inches to thousands of feet. This read range is
dependent upon a number of factors including, but not limited
to: the frequency of the RFID devices, power source of the
tags/transponders (batteries equal active tags, no battery equals
passive tag), amount of power being applied to the reader
antenna, material(s) and composition of the object being
tagged, physical size of the antenna (both reader and tag),
presence of EMI (electro magnetic interference) and RFI (radio
frequency interference), moisture content in the air, ambient
temperature, physical obstacles between the tag and reader and
many additional environmental factors.
There is a commonly mistaken idea that more read range is
always better, this is not always the case. In most gate control
applications, 10 to 15 feet is sufficient, least the reader be
reading the RF tag of the second vehicle in the lane and opening
the gate for the first (and possibly unauthorized) vehicle. This is
the primary reason (together with lower tag cost) that passive
RFID is most commonly used for gate controls. The same is true
for some asset tracking applications, it may be desirable to have
a controlled read range. For these, and many other reasons,
RFID readers/receivers will commonly offer the capability of
adjusting read ranges.
How Passive RFID Technology Works
Reader broadcasts RF energy over an adjustable area - aka read zone. Adjustable
refers to db levels controlled by power to the antenna
Amount of RF energy output is regulated by the FCC
Tags contain both an integrated circuit (IC) and antenna
Tag antenna absorbs and accelerates RF energy from reader and then, at excite
frequency, IC reflects RF signal back to the antenna, effectively using power from
the reader
The reflected radio waves contain the tag's ID code (facility code, ID number in
case of Wiegand) and other data.
Antenna relays the data to the reader
Reader transmits the info to the customer's information management system
(access control panel/gate operator)
How Active RFID Technology Works
Active RF tags contain their own power source (battery)
Tag transmits its’ embedded information to the receiver via the antenna
Tag can be “woken up” by the receiver (often a different frequency)…or
Tag can be constantly transmitting (beaconing)
 Receiver transmits the info to the customer's information management
system (access control panel/gate operator)
Active vs. Passive Tags/Transponders
Active tags contain internal batteries used as a power source for
transmitting data and therefore, tend to be larger than Passive
tags. Passive tags absorb the RF from the reader and reflect the
signal back to the reader. Pictured below are examples of an
active windshield tag and its’ passive counterpart
Passive = Unlimited tag life Active = Limited tag life
(exception is tags with replaceable batteries)
Active = Longer Range
Passive = Limited Range
Passive = Lower cost tags Active = More expensive tags
Active = Robust read zones Passive = Controlled read zones
Active = Read at speeds
Passive = limited speed
Passive = Expensive Readers Active = Inexpensive Receivers
Passive = More secure tags
Active = removable tags
RFID and FCC - Part 15 and Part 90
If The Transmitting Device Does Not Have an
FCC ID Number, It Is Illegal For You To Install
It – Period!
Passive tag systems, the reader is the transmitting device.
Active tag systems, the tag is the transmitting device
FCC Part 15 transmitters DO NOT require a site license
FCC Part 90 transmitters DO require a site license
Required FCC Part
15 verbiage
LF 125 KHz - Proximity Readers
Passive Tags (Active Rarely)
•Mostly used for Proximity Reader applications
•Data Transfer Rate is Slow
•Data Transfer is One Way (rare exception)
•Read Range is Limited to 24 inches
•Commonly Used for Access Control – Buildings and Gated Entry
•Low Cost and Widely Utilized
•Common Tag Form Factors = Cards, Keytags, Hangtags, Wafers
•HID – AWID – XceedID – Far Pointe
LF 125 KHz - Proximity Readers
Proximity Technology is Commonly Used at Gated Entrances
Due to Low Cost and Market Familiarity
Leverages Existing Proximity Cards Used for Building Access
•Read range maximum of 24 inches (passive cards)
•No simultaneous reads if multiple cards are in the field
•Limited form factors for credentials
•Proprietary protocols still in use – compatibility limitations
•Millions of cards in circulation present security concerns
•Performance inconsistencies with switching power supplies
•Susceptible to EMI from power sources, electric motors
High Frequency HF 13.56 MHz
Smart Card & Tag Readers
ISO 14443A, 14443B and 15693
Passive Tags – contact and contactless
•Contact Smart Cards require physical connection between the chip
and reader (older Bank and Logical Access cards).
•Contactless reads from 1 to 4 inches away – like proximity
•Smart Cards contain much more information and data
•Readers have a fast data transfer rate and can utilize secure
sectors within the card – including encryption for added security
•Smart Tags (usually ISO15693) read only card serial numbers
•HSPD12 mandates FIPS201 – contactless smart cards for
government employees and contractors
HSPD = Homeland Security Presidential Directive
FIPS = Federal Information Processing Standard
*Note – FIPS201 compatibility exists between the credential and
reader and has nothing to do with actual controller
Smart Card Applications
Storing Templates
can I
with a
Point of Sale
Stored Value
Library Check Out
Medical Record Storage
Gov’t Entitlement Data
Time &
Logical Access
PC logon
Because Smart Cards can store large amounts of data, and Smart
Card Readers can write data back to the cards, they are popular
for many non-security related uses. Utilizing the Secure Sectors
and Encryption features allow for higher levels of data security.
There is demand for these readers in gated entry applications so
insure that you have a vendor that understands the complexities.
Smart Card/Prox Combo Readers
aka Multi-Frequency Readers
13.56 MHz and 125 kHz
Multi Protocol Readers
In the past 10 years, there has been a proliferation of multi
frequency and multi protocol readers in the marketplace,
initiated by XceedID and adopted by GE, IR, Far Pointe, HID
and many other manufacturers/OEMs.
Multi frequency means that a Smart Card reader (13.56 MHz)
can also read Proximity cards (125 kHz), and vice-versa. These
readers allow for an easy migration path from one technology
to another.
Multi Protocol means that a Proximity reader can read HID,
AWID, XceedID and Farpointe cards. A Smart Card reader
can read ISO 14443A, ISO14443B and ISO 15693.
This is very useful for end users with multiple brands of
proprietary cards and tags
UHF 902 to 928 MHz Passive
AWID MPR-3014 Reader with 8 Antenna
Venture Research RFID
Portal 4 Antenna
WIP (work in process)
RFID on assembly line
Multi Antenna units are most commonly used in Supply Chain,
WIP (work in process) or File Tracking applications where there
is a need for reading and writing to large quantities of tags and it
is not economically feasible to install multiple readers with
integrated antenna
NOT commonly used for Gate/Lane Controls due to difficulties
discriminating from lane to lane and economies of scale (why pay
for 4 lanes if there is only 1 or 2?)
UHF 902 to 928 MHz Passive
The most common 902-928 MHz Readers that we see in the Gated
Entry marketplace are the integrated Antenna variety – one
housing contains both the reader electronics and the antenna.
These units are designed to read RF tags in one single lane. It is
usually desirable for these readers offer a variety of data output
formats to include Wiegand, RS232. TCP/IP for easy interfacing
with multiple types of gate operators and PLC’s. Many European
gate operators do not accept a Wiegand input, they are usually
looking for a proprietary flavor of RS232.
It is important to know if the reader you are installing is
environmentally sealed for use in outdoor environments. Because
this frequency of reader is commonly used for Supply Chain/WIP
applications, it may be designed for indoor use. If this is the case,
be sure to mount the reader inside a NON-metallic enclosure if
being mounted outdoors.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 902 to 928 MHz Passive
Typical Read Zone & Mounting Technique
Typically, a 900 MHz passive tag reader is aimed into the
traffic lane since the passive tag is usually mounted on the
vehicles windshield, or the hang tag is hanging from the
rear view mirror post. It is also common to have a passive
“windshield style” sticker on the headlamp. This reader
configuration is often used in conjunction with an
activation loop which will insure that a vehicle is present
before the readers’ output triggers the gate operator. Most
passive tag reader manufacturers will recommend a
mounting height of 6 to 9 feet for the read head so there is
maximum read zone coverage in the vehicle lane and the
read zone is aiming downwards to achieve a parallel surface
between the read head and the tag (more on that in a
couple of pages).
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 902 to 928 MHz Passive
Typical Read Zone & Mounting Technique
It is not uncommon to have a passive UHF reader mounted on
the side of the lane, though care must be exercised to move
the read head further back. As this illustration clearly shows,
the effective read zone of the UHF readers is at it’s widest
when the tags are 8 to 20 feet away. Since this reader
mounting technique is used when passive tags are usually
mounted on the side window in the case of passenger cars, or
on the side of a truck (metal mount tag), the best results will
be realized when the read head is further away from the travel
lane. One of the reasons that this mounting technique might
be utilized (in the case of passenger cars) is a proliferation of
vehicles with metallic windshield content that inhibits the
ability of a passive tag to absorb the RF and reflect it back to
the reader.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 902 to 928 MHz Passive
Typical Read Zone & Mounting Technique
Finally, that “Parallel Surfaces Rule”
If you will remember your basic RFID101 knowledge, you will recall
that a passive RF tag actually gets its’ power from the reader. That
is to say that, the reader is emitting RF and the tag must be able to
absorb that RF, accelerate the signal and the reflect it back to the
reader. Therefore, if the surface of the reader and tag are close to
parallel, this principal will result in better tag reads. Below is an
example of this rule not being followed:
In this instance, the fact that
vehicles were turning
through the read zone meant
poor performance when the
reader was mounted on the
white post. Once the reader
was moved back closer to the
operator, allowing vehicles to
enter the read zone straight,
it worked much better!
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 902 to 928 MHz Passive
Beware of the Customers Expectations
The single largest cause of customer dissatisfaction with AVI
systems is that their expectations were not fully realized and
met. Call it being oversold, but it happens very frequently and
usually results in the customer being unhappy and the
integrator being “gun shy” about future installs. As with any
technology, the customer must be educated and their
expectations must be known before the system is installed. A
perfect example of this would be a gated community where
many of the homeowners think that a toll tag type of system is
being installed so they can fly through the entrance at high
speeds. This would be an active tag system, which means big
trouble if management opted for a passive tag system.
Remember your RFID101, passive tags must absorb and
reflect the RF signal and therefore, can not be read at speed.
Active tag systems, because the tag is transmitting, can be
read at further distances and higher speeds.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 902 to 928 MHz Active
Though not very common place anymore, 902-928 MHz using
active (battery powered) tags used to be more commonplace.
Many toll roads used this technology until drastic improvements
in passive tag technology rendered these systems almost obsolete.
One of the issues making this technology fall out of favor is that
900 MHz active tags are governed by FCC Part90, which requires
an FCC Site License for every install. This technology is still in use
for asset and personnel tracking, though the propensity for body
blocking does limit those applications.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 433 MHz Active
The long range capabilities with active tags (batteries) makes this
the preferred technology for applications like asset tracking.
Middleware is often used in conjunction with active tag receivers
and tags to “zone out” a facility and provide information as to the
location and movement of assets/personnel from zone to zone.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 433 MHz Active
You may want longer read
distance for very large
vehicles such as tractor
trailers or you may simply
want high speed entrance
capabilities for secured
Many “exclusive” gated
communities and higher
end homes want the gates
opening while the vehicle
is approaching – not
necessarily good for
security, but sometimes
convenience matters
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 433 MHz Active – Internal Etched Antenna
When using an active tag system, it is often necessary to use a
circular polarized antenna to make your read zone “directional”
The diagram above shows the read characteristics of the tres433
active tag receiver with internal etched antenna. Imagine this
receiver was installed in the chassis of a typical gate operator.
Depending on the lane design, this could easily be reading the
active tags of exiting vehicles as well as the tags of any vehicles
parked immediately behind the gates/barriers. This is a common
problem with active tag RFID.
This proprietary diagram is used with the permission of Transponder and
Reader Engineered Systems, Inc.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 433 MHz Active – Circular Polarized Antenna
When using an active tag system, it is often necessary to use a
circular polarized antenna to make your read zone “directional”
The diagram above shows the read characteristics of the tres433
active tag receiver with a circular polarized (directional) antenna.
In many lane control applications, this read range is far too long
and can easily be adjusted by the TRES, Inc. exclusive auto-tune
procedure. The auto-tune is normally accomplished directly in
the front of the reader meaning there is a proportionate decrease
in read range at all angles. This is imperative when you have side
by side lanes or when you need to be cautious of reading tags of
following vehicles.
This proprietary diagram is used with the permission of Transponder and
Reader Engineered Systems, Inc.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
UHF 2.4 GHz Active
A.V.I. (Automated Vehicle Identification) Readers – this
frequency is most common among European manufacturers –
operates in a similar manner to the 433 MHz products as regards
read ranges and functionality. Prices tend to be much higher.
This is the same frequency as wireless access point s/WiFi data
networks utilize. Usually seen in conjunction with European gate
access or revenue control systems.
RTLS (Real Time Locator Systems) - This
same frequency is used in many hospitals for
Asset Tracking – they are leveraging the
existing WiFi networks and hotspots already
installed and tracking active 2.4 GHz tags
attached to assets or even patients.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
Data Formats and Tag Programming
Data that is programmed into a proximity/AVI card or tag
consists of a site/facility code and ID number in most cases.
Site/Facility code – usually verified by the system controller
before the card ID number is read – one verified, controller
then looks at the ID number to ascertain access level, time
zone, etc. (is that card number allowed access at this gate on
this day at this time) and if access is granted, gate/lock relay
opens/closes to allow access and entry is logged in database.
Common data output formats used in the Gated Entry/Parking
Controls industriesare Wiegand and Serial:
Most common is Wiegand Data, 26 bit
Higher Bit Count = Higher Security (more number combinations)
01045 is a 26 bit format example
256 possible site codes - 65,535 possible ID numbers
256 X 65,535 = 16,776,960 possible number combinations
024 12347629 34 bit format example
256 site codes – 16,776,960 ID numbers (4,294,901,760 combos)
Many Gate Operator Manufacturers (primarily European) will
utilize a serial format (RS232) – often proprietary. These
formats may or may not include the same data as described
above. Smart cards (13.56 MHz) may utilize just a serial
number (CSN) or more, possible encrypted.
RFID Technologies– RFID 101
Learn From Others’ Experience (and mistakes)
The biggest mistakes that I seen made in the last fifteen
years of RFID and Gate Controls installation:
•These devices are nothing but longer range Proximity
Readers and I have installed a million of those!
Being arrogant and rushing is not professional
•Customer Expectations not in alignment with reality
Take time to discuss the realities and limitations of the
technology with your customer – don’t be afraid to say
•Failure to listen to the manufacturers recommendations
regarding power supplies and mounting consideration
Just like any electrical appliance, there is a right way and
a wrong way to install it – read and learn before installing
•Allowing the end user to install their own tags without
proper training
I always use the example of a gated community – if you
have 1,000 residents, you will fine 999 ways NOT to
install an AVI tag.
•Improper grounding of the AVI Readers
•AVI readers are usually outdoors on a metal pole
connected to an electronic access controller – need we
say more?
Feel free to contact us with any questions that
you may have regarding this presentation.
You are welcome to join us for any of our
webinars, call or email for more information.
Prepared for the American Fencing Association by:
Douglas Cram, President – Transponder and Reader Engineered
Systems, Inc. [email protected] - (770) 529-1040